Solar-trade dispute leads to Washington State plant closure
An ongoing solar-trade dispute between China and the US has led to the closing of a plant in Washington state that produces silicon for the solar panel industry.
REC Silicon said on Monday that it would shut down two units at its Moses Lake plant in Grant County until June.
“Production is currently expected to be shut down from February until June of this year, dependent on the ongoing negotiations towards a resolution in the solar trade war and the general market development outside China,” REC Silicon, a Norwegian polysilicon manufacturer, said in a statement.
The plant's closing will not involve job losses immediately. REC Silicon said that its 400 workers will perform maintenance and repair work.
REC Silicon has basically maintained that it is an innocent victim of anti-dumping cases brought in 2011 by SolarWorld USA, the Oregon-based subsidiary of a German company. Charges by SolarWorld led to the US imposing duties in 2012 on solar panel imports from China after it determined that Chinese makers received illegal subsidies and sold their products in the US at below cost. China denied that it subsidized solar panel exports. A year later China announced its own tarrifs on US polysilicon used in solar panel production.
REC said the conflict has prevented it from selling to the Chinese market, which has resulted in lower polysilicon sales.
In 2014, Dow Corning, majority owner of Hemlock Semiconductor, decided not to open a polysilicon facility in Clarksville, Tennessee, citing Chinese tariffs and pricing pressures.
“REC Silicon is an innovative, low-cost polysilicon manufacturer that has been at the leading edge of clean-energy manufacturing, but is now unfairly caught in an international trade dispute,” Washington Governor Jay Inslee said in a statement. “We can avert a permanent shutdown but only if the Chinese and US governments, and the polysilicon and solar panel industries in both countries, agree to resolve this long-running dispute.”
Inslee previously wrote to Chinese Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng, President Barack Obama and US Trade Representative Michael Froman, urging them to resolve the dispute.
Production is currently expected to be shut down from February until June of this year ...”